Like any other person with a healthy ego, I particularly enjoy being told I am more clever than the next lass, so I was quite pleased to come across an article splashed across the front page of today's Financial Times expounding that fact.
...yes, being multilingual makes you smarter!
Of course, the FT article took a business spin, lauding the employability of multilinguals, "because these employees can communicate better, have better intercultural sensitivity, are better at co-operating, negotiating, compromising. But they can also think more efficiently.”
Why, thank you.
Today's article echos the sentiment of last year's New York Times article, detailing recent studies on cognitive function and how speaking multiple languages improves the brain's executive function responsible for planning, solving problems, and performing various other mentally demanding tasks.
Neuropsychologist Tamar Gollan of the University of California, San Diego, found that individuals with a higher degree of bilingualism were more resistant than others to the onset of dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: the higher the degree of bilingualism, the later the age of onset.
In all honesty, I don't think most multilinguals set out to learn another language to be "smarter" or to stave off disease -- or even get out of a fight with a Paris cabbie -- but it turns out that the gift of communication is the gift that keeps on giving.